Sherman's Food Adventures: Garden City Hot Pot

Garden City Hot Pot

Last week, I finally posted the Dim Sum service at Yue Delicacy.  The significance?  Well, it was one of the few remaining Dim Sum spots in Richmond that I haven't eaten at.  There are some more including the really expensive Fortune Terrace (need to visit the ATM first).  Until then, we headed over to Garden City Hot Pot to strike another off my list.  I've been here briefly before during last year's Chinese Restaurant Awards to try their Haw Gow.  Finally, we got to sit down and have a complete meal.

One of the things that sets Garden City Hot Pot from the rest of the other Dim Sum spots in town is that they offer Individual Teas that steep in a traditional zhong caj.  One chooses their loose leaf tea and then add boiling hot water (in a kettle atop the induction burner at the table).  Novel and resulting in really good tea, it does cost a pretty penny though per person.  Onto the food, the menu is fairly limited, but enough for all intents and purposes.  The first to come out, to the delight of my son, was the Shrimp Spring Rolls.  These were aesthetically-pleasing as well as being on point.  They were crunchy with buttery shrimp that exhibited a light snap while mildly seasoned.  Usually, I find the layer of seaweed a hindrance, but it wasn't in this case.

Next up was the Special House Noodles prepared crispy with a considerable amount of ingredients on top.  I found them to be a mish mash of things including shrimp, scallop, chicken, fish cake and Vietnamese ham.  Despite the considerable amount of starch-thickened sauce, it worked as the noodles were pretty crispy and needed the moisture.  However, there was a general lack of flavour to the dish as we needed some red vinegar to kick things up.  I found that the Stuffed Eggplant & Tofu to be just as bland as the black bean sauce was more of a garnish rather than a flavouring agent.  With that being said, the actually shrimp mousse was on point with a rebound texture while the eggplant was soft yet still retaining a bite.

Although the dumpling skin on the Haw Gow was a touch thick, it wasn't overbearing to eat with a nice chew.  Inside, the filling was mostly pieces of whole shrimp that had a meaty snap.  Other than a touch of sweetness, there wasn't much in the way of discernible flavour.  The shrimp mixture definitely could've used more sesame oil and salt.  The same could be said about the Sui Mai as there was some sweet notes from the shrimp, but little else.  Texturally, the dumpling was appealing since it was comprised mostly of shrimp with only a little bit of pork and pork fat.  Hence, there was a bounce to the entire thing that was buttery and moist.

When it hit the table, the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) with Beef Tripe didn't look all that appetizing.  With dissolved portions, missing skin and a super pale colour, the chicken feet were indeed terrible.  The whole thing was missing the tender plump skin and gelatinous cartilage underneath.  Rather, all we got was bone and a bit of obliterated skin.  Furthermore, there whole dish was lacking the garlicky saltiness we were all used to.  Moreover, there was very little tripe to be found (but it was good though).  Just for my son, we got the Salty Donut.  Something about fried anything appeals to him (except when veggies are involved).  This was rather crunchy with only a slight amount of chewiness left in the middle.  Not too greasy though.

Fairly average in size, the Beef Meatballs were pretty decent.  There was a considerable amount of bounce texture that did not completely erase the natural meat chewiness.  It was mildly seasoned and there was only a touch of green onion.
Looking like it was missing 1/3rd of the dish, the Chicken and Fish Maw looked downright sparse.  The chicken was buttery though being properly marinated and tenderized.  As for the fish maw, it was soft with some melting pieces, but the quality of the product was evident.  Again, flavours were very mild bordering on bland.  I guess my dad liked that as he doesn't want to eat salty food.

Onto dessert, we got an order of the Egg Tarts.  I guess we should've went for 2 as the kiddies demolished one each in a few bites.  We were able to share the last one and it was no wonder they liked it.  It was flaky and buttery with a silky and lightly sweet custard.  Also light, the Steamed Egg White Custard was mild on the sugar as well.  It was silky with a touch of waterinessI guess it goes without saying that the theme of the meal was "mild" (or bland in some cases).  I guess for those watching their salt intake, this would be ideal.  For me at least, everything needed something more to make the flavours stand out.  Other than that, the food was decent, if not a little pricey.  Also, the tea was nice, but also expensive.

The Good:
- Attentive service
- Interesting individual teas (albeit expensive)
- Okay eats

The Bad:
- Underseasoned
- A little pricey (unless you have a discount card)
- Limited selection